Though NATO and Afghan forces have "increased pressure on insurgent networks over the past several months, the insurgency has proven resilient" and "will retain operational momentum in some areas" as long as the Taliban can use neighboring Pakistan and Iran as sanctuaries, the report says.
It adds that the number of Afghans rating security as "bad" is at its highest level since the survey began in 2008, a trend the report concludes was due "to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months."
The sobering appraisal, which examines developments from April through September and is required by Congress, contrasts with the more upbeat assessment heard in recent days from President Obama and senior military officers, who have emphasized signs that the war is turning around and that momentum is shifting away from the Taliban.....
The previous Afghanistan assessment issued by the Pentagon, in June, concluded that the U.S. faced "severe challenges" and that the security situation was continuing to "deteriorate." The assessment released Tuesday found that security conditions over the last three months were "relatively unchanged" in the 124 districts deemed by international forces to be "key terrain."
Three districts in the east and one in the south have seen security worsen, meaning residents and troops in those areas now face "frequent threats," while in two other districts, in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, conditions have improved.
With nearly 100,000 U.S. troops and nearly 50,000 other foreign forces now in Afghanistan, "we are pushing the Taliban out of the populated areas," a senior State Department official said. But he acknowledged that the gains remained "fragile" and that the Taliban, even when driven out of cities and towns, continued to have influence.
The Pentagon's bright side--for itself, I guess--is that all the problems are a result, allegedly, of Obama mentioning even plans for an intention to eventually possibly leave the nation. Thus, the only way to keep Afghanistan un-deteriorating is to never leave. OK, can we vow never to leave as long as we actually do, as quickly as possible?